Celtics, Reloaded? A Look At Danny Ainge’s Off-season Wizardry

Celtics GM Danny Ainge is known for his crafty moves, best seen in the blockbuster trades that brought the Big Three together and retooled the Celtics into a championship winner in 2008.

This off-season however, marks the first time Danny Ainge, Celtics GM is free to decide on the direction of the Celtics’ future without being overly burdened by contracts, and take steps to address known problems in the Celtics roster.

The question comes then – WWDD (What Would Danny Do)?

As a Celtics fan, it is high blasphemy to speak ill of the team. Green goggles aside however, the Big Three era Celtics have always been hailed as a team of aging athletes with bad rebounding, areas that badly need fixing.

Age as evidenced by the ages of Garnett (36), Pierce (35) and Allen (37), with equally grizzled veterans signed over the years; look at Rasheed Wallace (35 in ‘09), Michael Finley (36 in ‘09) and not forgetting The Big Shamrock himself, Shaquille O’Neal at 38 when signed in ‘10.

This has led to a drop in transition plays with spurts of stagnant half-court offense at times.

Transition defense has always been prioritised over offensive boards, so that area has consistently been below league average.

However, they were also ho-hum on the defensive boards; from middling (league 25th in 2010/2011) to decent (league 13th in 2011/2012).

Danny’s first move of course, had to do with a BIG decision from a selfless Celtic who has been the defensive heart of the team.

The return of The Big Ticket

Everything begins here, with Kevin Garnett’s return for a 3 year contract (estimated at 34 million, a steal by anyone’s standards).

This signing reinforced Danny’s vision for an extended Big Three era with Garnett at the defensive helm while reloading the roster with younger legs capable of running with Rajon Rondo.

Ray’s “Decision”
A great deal has been written about Ray Allen’s decision to join the Miami Heat, despite being offered more salary in Boston.

We could call it irreconcilable differences and leave it at that, but his leaving triggered the end of the Big Three and a big hole in the lineup, which leads us to the next point.

JET’s touchdown
Jason Terry’s welcome move from Dallas to Boston for the MLE (Mid-Level Exception) has thankfully filled the gap for a three shooter, in addition to being play maker and shot creator, something Ray was not.

Let us not forget about his resilience as well; he has reportedly only missed less than 15 games in his NBA career!
A healthy body is always a welcome sight, seeing as the C’s were constantly plagued with injuries over the recent years.

Bass stays
Brandon Bass has been a consistent performer with his pick-and-pop game throughout last season, and it’s encouraging to see his return and desire to improve.

One hopes he develops a consistent offensive rhythm that carries over into the postseason this time round.

Nothing but heart
Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green were respectively sidelined with heart operations the last season, which were major blows to the team.

Thankfully, they are back and ready to join the green once more.

Wilcox has been signed for the veteran’s minimum, while Green’s signing on the final amount for a four year contract is still unconfirmed.

The coming of Lee
After a week or so of rumours, Rockets guard Courtney Lee has confirmed on Twitter that he is definitely headed to the Celtics this season!

There are no official details on the trade yet, but it appears Celtics sophomores E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Sean Williams might be involved, judging from their sudden absences in the summer league.

Draft decisions
With the 21st, 22nd and 51st picks, two bigs and a guard were selected.

Jared Sullinger is an excellent rebounder, while Fab Melo will prove to be a good defensive player after some work. Kris Joseph has proved to be excellent in the summer league so far, capable of doing a bit of everything from rebounding to scoring.

We can see the addition of youthful bigs into the mix, along with a second round guard who could prove his worth at the NBA level; all in all, a good draft.

How does it all add up?
With KG and Bass being re-signed, Danny has retained the existing starting lineup of Pierce, Garnett, Rondo and Bradley once again.

With the return of Wilcox plus Sullinger and Melo, the interior lineup is strengthened, while Green is back to spell minutes for Pierce and act as an integral component for a small offensive lineup.

Terry’s presence will provide another shot creator and a backup point for Rondo, which helps to ease the burden on Rondo and Bradley.

Lee’s addition to the lineup brings an athletic wing defender who can provide consistent outside shooting and a strong finisher at the rim, something Boston has been lacking in the bench.

And of course, let us not forget the excellent transition plays we should be seeing with Rondo’s masterful dishes to new signings Bass/Wilcox/Green/Terry.

The off-season is nearly at its end with the roster still incomplete, but one can certainly appreciate how Danny Ainge has masterfully kept the salaries within the limit, kept most of the core around while reloading the roster for another potentially exciting postseason run.

Will there be a legitimate shot at Banner #18 this year? What do you think of the signings so far? Let us know, and thanks for reading! #celtics

*Statistics referenced from http://www.basketball-reference.com